Have you been watching the news and/or read your daily broadsheets at all recently? If so, you’ve probably heard the term “Swine Flu” bouncing around a lot. While you are in the pigs fair or your hog race backyard and you were ever unlucky enough to be sneezed on by a sick pig, would you catch its flu? Not necessarily — it takes more than simply breathing in a pig's germs (just like kissing his messy and slimy nose) for you to get sick.
While most people come down with the normal human flu at some point, it’s not really a danger to anyone but the very young (from 0 month to 7 years old) and the very old (from 60 to 90 years old). Fortunately, the human immune system is there to recognize and neutralize the effects of the virus. Each year, the virus mutates just slightly and most of the population is once again susceptible to the disease. This is why a new vaccine must be created regularly to reflect the most recent influenza mutants out in the environment.
When the human flu virus mutates its external proteins, the body’s defenses still recognize them and eventually mount a response (the period of sickness occurs while the body is developing that response). If this failed to happen, you would eventually succumb to the virus and you will die.
If a people’s immune system might not immediately stop a new human influenza infection, it does recognize that new mutant and begin building a response. Avian and swine peplomers, on the other hand, are not easily recognized by the human system because our race did not include pressure from those particular viruses. The animal influenza has been able to mutate enough to cross the species bridge and infect humans as well as humans we have come into a close contact with the animals (e.g. as a hog racer, we care for them and eventually sold out to the market for more extra income) that carry these viruses.
In the past this would not have been a worldwide epidemic. An infected village might just die out in isolation (the nearest hospital was more than 10 miles away from the village). Now it’s different: if a traveler can become infected from a hog race backyard in one region and fly thousands of miles to another, long before they experience symptoms of possible flu.
So what’s the fall away message from all of this? Can we do anything? Well as individuals it’s wise to go through the same sanitary practices as we might during flu season. We must be aware if our pigs catch flu during the season so that we put them instantly in a quarantine area that no other individual will take care of your pigs without protective suits. And traveling to places which have reported Swine Flu cases probably isn’t a great idea.
There are people as you observe in different agencies and they have spent their whole lives preparing for just these kinds of epidemics and they are currently working very hard to provide the public with the best information and advice about the Swine Flu.
They are only there waiting for your attention and willingness to diagnose if you suspected yourself a possible Swine Flu virus. They are there to help you live longer.